Posted: November 14, 2022
26 August 1930–30 October 2022
Raúl O. García, Mennonite World Conference president 1990-1997 died 30 October 2022. A long-term pastor, teacher and professor, he was born in Argentina 26 August 1930.
Converted as a Mennonite from a Catholic family at age 14, his pastoral gifts were recognized and 10 years later, he was appointed assistant pastor at Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Pehuajó, in a city inland from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The next year, Raúl García graduated from university as a translator and teacher of English left for the USA to study at Goshen College Biblical Seminary.
There he re-encountered Anita Schwartzentruber, daughter of missionaries in Argentina, and they were married 28 July 1956.
They returned to Argentina where he took up pastoral leadership at Pehuajó again in addition to teaching English in high school and later serving as director.
He played a major role in the development of biblical-theological education for South American leadership. Over the years, he served as chairman of the Board of the Mennonite Seminary in Uruguay and Paraguay, and board chair of the Argentine Evangelical Mennonite Church (IEMA) Conference.
Raúl O. García was the first president of Mennonite World Conference to come from Latin America. He was installed at the 1990 Assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
He authored “I Am A Christian Evangelical Anabaptist” in English and Spanish which was also translated into Portuguese.
In 2004, Goshen College (USA) awarded Raúl and Anita García their “Culture for Service” Award in recognition of their lives of exemplary service.
Raúl O. García is survived by his wife Anita Schwarzentruber García and their three sons.
Comments from MWC leaders:
In late July 1990, Raúl and Anita García went to the MWC Assembly in Winnipeg, they said, not expecting “anything important to happen. Just to be there and enjoy the fellowship.” But something important and totally unexpected did happen: Raúl was elected president of Mennonite World Conference. His first words, like those of Pope Francis decades later, were “Pray for me. If the Lord has put me in this place, he will help me with the grace and wisdom needed to keep involved.” The Lord did provide Raúl grace and wisdom as he presided gently over MWC during a period of historic change in the Anabaptist-Mennonite world and corresponding changes in MWC. In 1994, for the first time, the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ family numbered more members in the Global South than in the Global North, inspiring MWC’s initial steps from “conference” to “communion,” the establishment of the Global Church Sharing Fund, a reconceptualization of the global Assembly and more. In his first message as MWC president, addressed to the 32 000 people gathered in the Winnipeg stadium (probably the largest gathering of Anabaptist-Mennonites in history) Raúl spoke from his heart as he so often did: “If we have been faithful, there is joy in heaven for each one of us who has been a witness.” Raúl has been a witness. Raúl has kept the faith. There is joy in heaven! And gratefulness on earth.
—Larry Miller, former MWC general secretary (1990-2011)
For over six decades, Raúl O. García was faithfully engaged in multiple forms of service work. Co-workers, church members, and students experienced him as faithful, kind, thoughtful, reliable, productive and much more. He was a mentor to hundreds in Argentina and beyond.
—Daniel Schipani, Professor Emeritus, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
“It was with sadness that I received the news of the death of our dear brother Raúl García. I was always impressed by his humility, simplicity, love for serving Jesus Christ and concern to honour our Anabaptist heritage and values. We had many good conversations, among them, regarding the progress of our churches in South America. He faithfully fulfilled his calling. May the Lord comfort his family.”
—Hans Gerhard Peters, Aliança Evangélica Menonita, Brazil (Executive Committee representative for Latin America 1990-1997)
In every church meeting I have participated in [with pastor Raúl García], we have had a time of sharing that has been a great blessing for the life of the church in Argentina.
—Elvio Danilo Cayul, pastor, Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Argentina
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